Some drivers cause automobile accidents. They do not themselves crash their cars into trees or other vehicles, but, because of their erratic driving behavior, they generate frustration in normal folk, which makes them highway hazards.

You have seen many of these drivers who cause accidents. Every summer and fall, Maine roads are infested with thousands of them. They creep along on curvy roads at 35 when the limit is 50, ostensibly oblivious to the 20 sweaty-knuckled drivers who are swearing behind them.

Would you be surprised to hear that for years I, too, have disregarded conventional driving practice and have been responsible for many fender-benders?

I don’t consider myself to be a creeper, although my wife, Marsha, who rides with me, would disagree. “Can’t you go a little faster?” she’ll say. “The speed limit is 50 miles per hour.”

“I’m going 55.”

“I know. Can’t you go just a little faster?”

It is not, however, my habit of creeping along Maine highways that gets me in trouble: I might be the only person you know who stops at stop signs.

Because only an inconsiderate fool stops at a Maine stop sign, normal drivers are therefore justified when they ram me in the rear end. Which they too often do.

This stopping at stop signs is a nasty habit I acquired over 40 years ago while teaching driver education at Rockland and Waldoboro high schools.

Around 1965, while learning how to teach drivers, I first heard of the “complete stop.” “You must come to a complete stop,” they’d say. And this puzzled me because if someone said, “The dog is dead,” would you ask, “Is he completely dead?” Either you are stopped or you are moving.

But some say that between “stopped” and “completely stopped,” there exists a twilight zone. You will see it if you stand by any stop sign and count the number of drivers who execute the “Rhode Island roll,” in which shifting to a lower gear is tantamount to stopping.

We might well also ask, if three cars are stopped at a stop sign, when the first car proceeds into the intersection, does the second car in line have to stop again when it becomes the first car in line?

This is where I have too often been rear-ended, because when I move up into first place on the white line, I stop again. Am I not supposed to? The driver behind me does not intend to stop, does not expect me to stop, is looking left to see if there is any oncoming traffic and rams me.

Do police officers give tickets to people who do not stop at stop signs? Last night, as the officer wrote up the report on the most recent man to strike me in the rear end at a stop sign, I spoke with the officer’s father-in-law, who happened on the scene.

This man – one of my rhubarb customers, and obviously an insider – told me that a cop could sit by the junction of Route 90 and Route 1 in Warren and write tickets all day because nobody stopped at that stop sign.

Over the past 25 years, I have ridden thousands of miles with a friend. And in that time I can’t remember ever seeing him stop at a stop sign – unless, of course, a car was already in the right of way.

When he rides with me he says, “You don’t have to stop. You don’t have to stop.” It’s a running joke between us. But he knows that if I were to run a stop sign, I’d be the one driver in 10,000 to be given a ticket.

For years I have automatically braced my head against the headrest, expecting to be struck from behind every time I’m tailgated while coming up to a stop sign. If I stop, I am likely to be struck in the rear end. If I don’t stop, I’m entitled to a traffic ticket. So I’m rammed if I do and damned if I don’t.

We are now going to be inconvenienced for several days while someone does $2,500 worth of repairs on Marsha’s Rav 4.

You are probably aware of a simple solution to the stop sign problem. Some countries have yield signs wherever they are more conducive to the smooth flowing of traffic.

Anyone who hates stop signs on rural roads as much as I do would like to see most stop signs replaced by yield signs. Many technical studies indicate that a prudent use of yield signs would not only be safer, but would save money for drivers and taxpayers. Only our friends who own body shops would oppose it.

On the other hand, if there had been a yield sign at that intersection last night, my column for today would have been titled: “What are those beetles doing on my cucumber plants?” And my editor wouldn’t have printed it.

The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/MainePrivateRadio.html